Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.
-- Maria Montessori
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 21-23.]
Thou halt to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee, to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.
Be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.
Of teachers, there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one, Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT.
-- THE VOICE OF THE SILENCE
During this month, all who honor Gautama Buddha will celebrate the Triple Festival of Buddhism. It represents the birth date of the body of Prince Siddhartha, who renounced his crown for the begging-bowl and his Kingdom for the Sangha of monks and nuns. It also represents the day of his attainment to supreme Wisdom at Gaya under the Bodhi Tree. On that day, after forty-five years of magnificent service, he cast away the body through which he had labored. Tradition has it that He, the Compassionate One, remains to bless Humanity through his ideation in the sphere of Paranirvana.
In later times, orthodox Brahmanas included him in the pantheon of Avataras of Vishnu. His many reforms did not fully succeed in purifying Hinduism. Like him, the illustrious Adi Shankara, whose anniversary also falls in this month of May, did not fully succeed in his mission of religious reformation. He was called by the orthodox a "Buddha in disguise" and in his teachings, metaphysical and ethical, Shankara was that!
What did these two mighty Adepts plan to do for humanity by incarnating in Hindu bodies some 2,500 years after the starting of the Kali Yuga at the death of Krishna? Both Buddha and Shankara were metaphysicians and grand philosophers, but both emphasized the life of purity and piety and of service to humanity. While Buddha, speaking the language of the people, preached to very large masses, Shankara used Sanskrit, the tongue of the learned leaders of the people.
The aim of both was the purgation from Hinduism of the corruption of priestcraft and the emphasizing of individual effort in the war against the evils rooted in human nature. Both offered a philosophical basis for high ethics. They pointed to the truth that noble morality was the real enlightener of human minds. In more than one way, both Buddha and Shankara pointed out that by intuition alone came understanding of universal ultimates and came the solution to the final problems of matter, mind, and spirit. Each was a logician who reasoned superbly, confuting learned minds.
Even today, materialistic reasoners are unable to comprehend the profound doctrines of both these Teachers because the philosophical logicians are not capable of using their own Divine Intuition. Without that Soul faculty, the truths of life cannot be lived. The development of Intuition demands the purification and elevation of man's moral nature. A character clogged with egotism and vanity beclouds the thinking mind and disables it from catching the truths of Living Ideas.
Both Buddha and Shankara, going straight to the Heart of Religion, proclaimed anew the teachings of Sanatana Dharma, Eternal Religion, the Perennial Philosophy, Theosophy. Buddha cut across Sruti and Smriti -- Revelation and Tradition -- and proclaimed the age-old moral and metaphysical truths in as simple and straightforward a language as was possible for the race mind to appreciate. Shankara who followed used the old texts but by writing commentaries on them. He gave a fresh reinterpretation to the texts. He called the attention of the learned to the importance of living the life, building not temples however beautiful, of stone and rock, but erecting the Living Temple of the Living God.
Great sages have uniformly called attention to the Bodhi Dharma, the Wisdom Religion, which antedates the Vedas. Its central and most fundamental doctrine is Universal Unity rooted in the One Spirit, which manifests as the Law of Brotherhood in the human kingdom. The truth of Advaita taught by Shankara demands that each man recognize the Divine Presence in every human heart, which in turn requires us to practice the great truth of the Buddha:
Never in this world does Hatred cease by Hatred. Hatred ceases by Love. This is the Law Eternal.
Commenting on THE GITA, VI, 32, Shankara remarks:
Seeing that that which is pleasure and pain to himself is likewise pleasure and pain to all beings, he causes pain to no being; he is harmless. Doing no harm and devoted to right knowledge, he is regarded as the highest among Yogins.
By Wesley Amerman
Cambria was a continuation of events held in and around Brookings, Oregon, where a handful of theosophists hosted a delightful series of annual meetings that we came to call "gatherings." Wylda and Bill Dade, long associated with the United Lodge of Theosophists, had started inviting their friends to their home for a little more socializing than the modest weekly study group they held there. Before they knew it, people were arriving from literally all over the world, coming from as far away as England, Belgium, and Sweden, and they had to rent space in hotel conference rooms to handle the crowds that showed up for the public meetings. Then, after six years of opening their home to all who came, "Willie" became ill and died less than two weeks after last year's event.
Saddened but inspired and undaunted, her friends pitched in and sought to try to continue to meet. Carin Elin collected email addresses. Phyllis Ryan and LaVera Samuels found and rented a house and a meeting room ten months in advance in Cambria, California, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco. This served as a crucial gathering point, allowing people to come and go when they liked. Diane Kaylor built a web page for the event, and Linda Smith mailed paper flyers and arranged a notice in the local newspaper. A theme, "Theosophy -- Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times" was chosen. The panelists corresponded by email with Gail Stevenson from Seattle who introduced the speakers and acted as the Moderator at the public meeting scheduled for Saturday. With limited time available at the meeting room in the Community Center, they chose to limit presentations to ten minutes each, allowing more opportunity for discussion and interaction.
The meeting on Saturday went off pretty much as planned. Myrra Lee from San Diego gave a brief historical overview of the Theosophical Movement, and took notes on a flipchart of some of the possible current fields for application of theosophical principles. Alan Donant of the Theosophical Society, Pasadena, discussed brotherhood, human solidarity, the unity of life, karma, and reincarnation as essential parts of the theosophical world-view. Wes Amerman from Los Angeles compared what H.P. Blavatsky termed the "astral" or "akasha" with what some biologists now call "morphic fields." He described the latest research into the effects of meditation on the chemistry and structure of the human brain. After a brief intermission, things got going again with a "mystics viewpoint" provided by Odin Townley of New York, who talked about why the study of nature is essential to both theosophists and everyone else, as it helps us to connect ourselves with the greater web of life. Garrett Riegg, of San Francisco, provided a fascinating account of "super-string theory," by which modern science seeks to explain the incredibly tiny universe of subatomic particles, and gave some hints as to how Theosophy provides much-needed clues into the paradoxes of matter and consciousness.
Everyone I talked with greatly enjoyed the presentations and discussions. The best thing about the weekend may have been the opportunity people had to interact in unplanned and unscheduled ways. As at the Brookings gatherings, this weekend focused around meeting old friends and finding new ones. At least a few attended from every theosophical organization, not just from ULT, as well as from all over the country (with a couple from Europe as well). This provided a rich diversity of thought and approach.
Some events plan this sort of exchange into a workshop format, but in Cambria, spontaneity was the order of the day. Unplanned discussions on Friday and Saturday evenings and midday Sunday focused on philosophical and practical aspects of theosophical work. For example, people occupied a good part of an evening discussing how to use mythology to interest young people and newcomers and how to distinguish between the content of a meeting and the learning processes involved. Theosophists tend to emphasize the content of their meetings and forget how to include everyone and to find out exactly which message is getting across.
One example of the value and strength of group efforts was the almost magical way in which the program for the Saturday meeting came together. The panelists had arranged to meet Friday afternoon, to compare notes and coordinate the details for the next day. After some delays and a visit to the Recreation Center, they managed to get things organized, and someone remarked that it would be nice to have a program to hand out. One thing led to another and in half an hour, they had a rough outline that they turned over to Diane Kaylor. Diane formatted the layout on a laptop computer, found some appropriate "clip art" and presented it to the group. A quick trip to the local print shop, barely ahead of closing time, and they had done the job! It came out amazingly well, considering the short time and limited resources available to us. The word "synergy," sometimes abused and misused, is the best term I can think of to describe how a well-focused collective effort can produce so much of value. To many of us, this little story symbolized both the charm and the power of the Gathering at Cambria.
By G. de Purucker
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1942, pages 481-84.]
Dr. de Purucker's last public address given in the Temple at the International Theosophical Headquarters, Covina, California, on September 20, 1942, at the time of the Autumnal Equinox, known to Theosophists as the sacred season of the Great Passing.
Brilliance like the almighty wings of love knows no barriers, and can and does penetrate everywhere. This thought was born in my mind this afternoon as I hearkened to our speaker giving us excerpts of great beauty, of great depth, from the archaic Wisdom-teachings of mankind. These teachings belong to no race, to no age. Since they are essential truth, they must also be taught in spheres not earthly, but divine, as they are taught here on earth to us men.
It struck me that the burthen of his brilliant address was this: that we men, we human beings, as indeed all other things and entities everywhere, are but parts of one vast cosmic whole, intimately united together, despite our failings and our stumbling, in the working out of our common destiny. And therefore in proportion to our own individual understandings, we respond to that cosmic source which the Christian calls God, and which I prefer to call the Divine, from which we came, inseparable from which we are and always shall be, and into which again we are now returning on our ages' long pilgrimage.
Oh, just that one thought, if we men could keep it alive in our hearts and allow it to stimulate our minds from day to day, how would it not soften the asperities of human life, how would it not teach us men to treat our brothers like brothers instead of bitter foes!
Don't you see, Brothers and Friends, that this teaching is brilliant because it is a teaching of a genius? It contains everything within it, all the Law and all the Prophets. What is this teaching? Succinctly phrased it is simply this: that the cosmic life is a cosmic drama in which each entity, be it super-god, god, demigod, man, beast, monad, or atom, plays his or its proportionate part; and that all these dramatic presentations are welded together, leading up to one vast cosmic climax -- to which, by the way, there is no anticlimax. So that with every even human day we are coming closer to that time in the immensely distant future when we all shall, once more reunited, enter into the deep womb of utter cosmic being -- call it God, call it Divinity, call it Spirit, call it what you wish.
The drama then will have ended. The curtain will fall, and what we Theosophists call Pralaya will begin, the rest-period. Just as in human affairs, when night is over there comes the day, so when the night of Pralaya ends, the Manvantara, the cosmic day, dawns again. The curtain on the cosmic stage once more rises. Each entity, each being, then begins its cosmic play, its role, exactly at the metaphysical and mathematical point where it stopped when the bells of Pralaya rang down that cosmic curtain on the Manvantara or world-period just ended. Everything begins anew precisely like a clock or watch, which, when it has stopped and is rewound, begins to run again at the exact point at which the fingers themselves stopped.
Why, this single conception of human identity with the cosmos, together with all the religious, philosophical, scientific, and moral implications that it embodies, is older than thinking man. We are one and yet we know it not, we recognize it not, so that in the drama of life, we commit all the follies on the stage, and tragedy becomes comedy and comedy, alas, through our own fault becomes tragedy.
I want to quote to you something that I love and have loved from boyhood. I learned it when I was a child and found it again once more in THE SECRET DOCTRINE of HPB, when in after life as a young man I joined the Theosophical Society. It is this: the picture is that of the Hindu guru or teacher. A pupil stands or sits before him.
He is testing the knowledge of this pupil regarding the teaching that this pupil has received, and he says, "Chela, Child, dost thou discern in the lives of those around thee anything different from the life that runs in thy veins?"
"There is no difference, Oh Gurudeva. Their life is the same as my life."
"Oh Child, raise thy head and look at the violet dome of night. Consider those wonderful stars, those beings radiating, irradiating, from the cosmic splendor above our heads. Seest thou that cosmic fire that burns in all things and shines supremely bright in this and that and that and that yonder brilliant orb? Child, dost thou discern any difference in that cosmic light, in that cosmic life, from that which shines forth from our own day-star, or from that which burns in thine own heart both day and night?"
The child says, "Oh Gurudeva, I see no difference between life and life, and light and light, and power and power, and mind and mind, except in degrees. The light that burns in my heart is the same as the light that burns in the hearts of all others."
"Thou seest well, Child. Now listen to the heart of all this teaching: AHAM ASMI PARABRAHMA.
Having been taught Sanskrit, the Vedic Sanskrit, the child understands and bows his head, "Pranjali." The meaning is, "I am the Boundless; I myself am Parabrahma, for the life that pulses in me and gives me existence is the life of the most divine of the divine."
No wonder the child has understood. Am I a child of God? Essentially, it is the only thing I am, and if I fail to realize it, it is not the Divine's fault but mine.
I believe, Friends and Brothers, that you will find this sublime teaching with its innumerable deductions -- and you will feel bound logically to make deductions for yourselves as you understand it -- I believe that you will find this teaching of Divinity in every one of the great systems to which the genius of mankind has given birth. Religion IS it. Philosophy was born from it. Science is now aspiring towards it, and is beginning to get feeble adumbrations of what it means.
Think even in our own small human affairs -- small when compared with the vast cosmic majesty that holds us around in its sheltering care -- think, if every man and woman on earth were thoroughly convinced of the utter reality of this cosmic truth! Never again would the hand of man be raised against man. Always it would be the extended hands of succor and brotherhood. For I am my brother -- in our inmost we are one.
If we are separate, it is because of the smallness that makes us each one an atom as it were, instead of the spiritual monad which for each one of us is our source. That monad is of the very stuff of divinity. As Jesus the Avatara phrased it in his wonderful saying, "I and my Father are one" -- the Father and the divine spark, the spark of divinity which is identical with the cosmic life, with the universal ocean of life, to use another metaphor.
This idea of the cosmic ocean of life, of which we are all droplets in our inmost and in our highest, was in the mind of Gautama the Lord Buddha when he spoke of that ultimate end of all beings and things. As he said, all beings and things are in their essence Buddha, and some day shall become Buddha themselves, when, as phrased so beautifully by Edwin Arnold, the dewdrop slips into the Shining Sea.
By Greg A. Westlake
After reading Boris de Zirkoff's lecture in the July 2001 THEOSOPHY WORLD, I was surprised to learn his lecture occurred in 1955, a year after I was born. This illustrates how slowly we are progressing towards Boris's vision of a Science of Theosophy. There are two reasons that make a Science of Theosophy unlikely. First, Theosophists are unlikely to prove any spiritual truth to a 21st century scientist's satisfaction. Second, the Theosophical Society is not actively seeking a synthesis of Theosophical material, working to define the meaning of terms and concepts.
People have argued over the true meaning of Theosophy for decades, because we each take away something different from the literature. However, most agree it has to do with personal discovery of the fundamental truths of human nature. Unfortunately, most disagree on which truths are the key to Theosophy, and which are merely distractions along the Path.
The evaluation of truth is subjective. We appreciate truth like a work of art or music. The Theosophical Society is deeply rooted in its old masters. Its leaders dare not journey beyond the beaten path, lest they lose sight of the truth. We are better off calling the personal search for truth the Art of Theosophy. The Art of Theosophy would allow for a more personal interpretation and thus allow others to hold their beliefs without fear of criticism.
In the rich myth, culture, and folklore of ancient Theosophies, we find many numerical patterns and meanings. Theosophists hope to uncover the true meaning of these myths, allowing the truth to steep into their psyche and enrich their spiritual nature. Again, we deal with the Art of Theosophy, because there are no generally accepted models of reality with which we can validate these insightful stories.
Science often requires numerical evidence or formulas that it can test. Science expects two or more people conducting the same experiment under the same conditions to come to the same results. However, Science has not proven some areas, which fall into a gray zone called Theory. Theories thrive on the fringe of Science. Scientists give them some leeway concerning burden of proof.
After reading THE SEVEN RAYS, by Ernest Wood in 1973, I made it my life's work to reveal the theory behind it. Over the past few years, I have tried in vain to interest members of the Theosophical Society in a broader understanding of the Seven Rays.
As an abstract Mathematician, I have pondered the possibility that an ancient interpretation of the Seven Rays, which I call the Seven Seals, lays at the origin of many numerically based myths. I believe that it is the Theosophist's job to extract and synthesize the mystical basis used by our ancient ancestors to create myths. I believe that a myth is an ancient work of art. These images and characters are similar to archetypes that define the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual nature of their creator.
The Theory of the Seven Seals is incomplete without the meaning derived from several other occult systems of knowledge: the I Ching, Astrology, Tarot, and the Seven Chakras. The successful integration of these occult systems with the Seven Rays suggests that the patterns previously existed as a whole science or else lay within our subconscious. Both possibilities allow us to entertain the idea that there may be some verifiable model of reality.
In the January 2001 THEOSOPHY WORLD, there is an excellent example of an ancient myth that illustrates the integration of symbols, meaning, and theory. THE DRAGON by Allen Stover quotes THE SECRET DOCTRINE (I, 408). "The Black Warrior, White Tiger, Vermilion Bird, and Azure Dragon" were called the Four Hidden Dragons of Wisdom. "The seven headed or septenary Dragon Logos had been in the course of time split up into FOUR heptanomic parts or 28 portions." According to the Seven Seals theory, the physical vehicle of man's spirit is divided into 28 portions. The Seven Chakras of the body are home to the most explicit and then the Seven Chakras of the astral body. These Chakras keep the body intact and functioning. The other 14 portions are lower forms of consciousness, which the senses and our force of will produce. Each of these four Chinese figures then represents a physical archetype as opposed to a mental, emotional or spiritual one.
Because I have a workable theory or model, I am able to predict the existence of these various states of consciousness and universal principles. Alas, it is a tough claim to make that you have discovered a logical pattern in a philosophy that is so rich with imagination. It should not come as any big surprise to anyone that the essence of our spiritual consciousness has so much numbered orderliness to it. The natural world is one big chaotic place. The spiritual force of plants and animals gives it orderly form. To illustrate my notions into a palatable form, I created the Westlake Tarot deck (not yet published). I am currently writing the meanings of a completely new group of archetypical characters (cards) from four ancient cultures.
To summarize, the Art of Theosophy is a practical necessity due to the subjective nature of Truth. It is through Myth that we define the subconscious essence of our reality. While we understand that Myth is not Truth, we seek it out to grasp an understanding of our archetypical points of consciousness and universal principles. Think of the theory of the Seven Seals (Seven Rays) as a great big coat hanger upon which we can sew the cloak of our Personal Theosophy. To begin sewing a cloak, you should begin with a pattern lest you put the collar where the sleeve belongs. Let us make progress towards Boris's vision of a Spiritual science.
By Reed Carson
[Written August 19, 2001, site http://www.blavatsky.net]
There is some very exciting news to report. Now at the top of the homepage is a new click that says, "Free book offer: best biography of Blavatsky." If you click on that, it says:
A philanthropist has donated a FREE book, the paperback version of THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE AND INFLUENCE OF HELENA BLAVATSKY -- FOUNDER OF THE MODERN THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, by Sylvia Cranston. This is the definitive biography of H.P. Blavatsky. Over ten years of specific research and many more years of writing and study went into its preparation. The book is available free to all members of Blavatsky Net. (You pay the standard shipping and handling cost as with all other books.) To get your copy simply visit the Blavatsky Net Bookstore and place an order as normal for any other book. Then choose your method of shipment. The philanthropist has donated 500 copies of this paperback edition of the book, hoping to find good homes for it. If you already have a copy, get your free copy anyway and give it to a deserving person. This offer is good while the supply lasts.
We are really looking forward to the helpful effect for the movement that this offer provides. Hope you get your copy.
I am delighted to announce that Larry Kolts has agreed to be the moderator in charge of the bn-study mailing list. This is day-in, day-out work in helping the conversation move timely. He deserves our special thanks. I am particularly appreciative of the knowledge and experience he brings to bear. As we move along, I expect he will contribute more to the development of particular content for this list.
Blavatsky Net has received another gift that I think will help the movement. From Mumbai India, formerly called Bombay, the ULT lodge has donated tape copies of two years worth of its Sunday night talks. These are high quality talks. They are focused, organized, and pure Theosophy. We will be putting them online. The variety of their titles is fascinating. We now have the list of titles online. You can see it by going to "audio online" on the menu panel on the left of the homepage. We think this will be a real contribution in promulgating this teaching.
As a part of a discussion occurring on bn-study, Peter Bernin has placed on his Swedish site some wonderful material on the Bamian statues. It includes pictures he took himself while on a personal expedition along with his commentary on that adventure. It also includes the considerable amount of words of HPB that inspired the trip. His page, part of his larger Swedish site, deserves a special visit. You can find it by clicking to "weathervane" on the homepage.
The home page of Blavatsky Net has undergone substantial overhaul. It is now more dynamic. It features material changing daily and weekly. One new feature is a section sampling the actual material occurring on the mailing lists at Blavatsky Net. Each talk list gets a week on the homepage. It is a rotating section. We know this will make the homepage more interesting and we hope it will attract others to join a list.
We now have a new section on the homepage linking to various ezines. (The mailing lists and ezines are part of the dynamic life-blood of this new medium, the Internet.) We feature a different ezine weekly!
Please bear with us though, it will take time for the page and other improvements we have in mind to be completed.
There are a few milestones worth mentioning. Just recently, the homepage visitor count passed the 200,000 mark. We started the hit count on August 25, 1996, almost five years ago. We expect to continue increasing at a faster rate and hit the one million mark in not too many years. For now, we are aiming next for the quarter million mark.
The bn-study discussion list, our oldest list, has hit a new record by passing 1000 registered participants after two and a half years of steady growth. While we cannot say exactly what that means, we know it represents continued growth that is now fast and impressive.
There are now 2779 members to the Blavatsky Net site. Of all those, 1569 are visible in the profile report.
By Gregory Tillett
Religious scholars call a system of belief that a teacher has given to disciples to accept without question Received Truth. Often, the teacher gives the system with a claim of Divine Authority.
We find many examples in Christian history. Within the Roman Catholic Church's theological system, Papal Infallibility is a Received Truth that is not open for discussion or scholarly criticism. The church penalizes or excludes those like Hans Kung whom probe this dogma. Wishing to remain as such, Jehovah's Witnesses cannot discuss the prohibition on blood transfusions.
A teacher or organization gives Received Truth for acceptance. The group does not intend there to be any honest discussion. True Believers can argue for the beliefs, but they will not intellectually consider the ideas with open and critical minds. This excludes scholars, whom are supposed to question beliefs openly.
We find Received Truth outside traditional religion. The true Marxist or true Freudian cannot take his or her theories as claims that someone might openly question. To them, their beliefs are statements of unchangeable fact that the True Believer recognizes. They see any questioning of the Received Truth as an attack by unbelievers or heretics.
Essentially, heresy is a challenge to the Received Truth from within. Such a challenge inevitably leads to the True Believers forcing out the heretics. Often the heretics then establish a new Received Truth position.
The Adyar position is that Leadbeater's claims are true. They are Received Truth. The ULT approaches Robert Crosbie's version of history in the same way. Tingley cannot have expelled him from Point Loma. Therefore, ULT True Believers view see themselves defending against an attack by unbelievers or heretics. Point Loma True Believers, I assume, take the reverse position.
Over time, competing rivalries arise regarding Received Truth. Each tradition has its own interpretations of the true. Thus, we have Adyar, Point Loma, the ULT, and many other groups, each claiming to be the only true successors to the HPB tradition.
Assume there is a single, monolithic version of Theosophy. Assume that it is a description of the facts in nature. This requires a Received Truth position. We could also accept that Roman Catholicism, Marxism, Freudianism, Buddhism, or Islam is likewise a description of the facts of nature.
Even the acceptance of HPB's teachings is a Received Truth position. To do so, we must assume that we could reach a consensus as to what those teachings were. How can we test it? Why do we assume it more accurate a description than the teachings of Swedenborg or Steiner? Disciples of Received Truth can provide arguments and evidence to support their claims, but all ultimately begin with a Faith Position.
I am not arguing with the value of holding to a Received Truth position. Such makes life simpler and more understandable. We should, though, recognized it for what it is.
By John Gayner Banks
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, January 1939, pages 36-51. It comes from a talk given at the Katherine Tingley Lodge of The Theosophical Society, San Diego, California in April 1938.]
SACRAMENTS AND "MYSTERIES"
Jesus did not bequeath to His followers a lot of complicated and stereotyped practices by which his teaching was to be perpetuated. He did something much more masterful. He inculcated principles. Then he took the small Inner Circle of his followers and breathed into them His own Spirit. With those principles to guide and with that Spirit to serve as enablement (theologically "grace"), His followers worked out His wishes and fulfilled them to the best of their ability. Thus, despite materialism in the Church and obscurantism among professing Christian believers, we find that a considerable number all down through the ages (with no serious hiatus) observed, enjoyed and transmitted certain Rites and Practices by which Christian initiates could share the Mysteries which had been esoterically imparted to them.
When I claim that the Christian sacraments today convey and even represent some of these Mysteries, I shall doubtless encounter disagreement and opposition from some. I sympathize with the bitterest critics in repudiating the values of mere formalism and priestcraft that misrepresent the essential Mysteries that Jesus expounded to His followers. I still believe that beneath the externals are precious relics of the ancient teaching and that in such Rites and sacraments as Christian Baptism, the Holy Communion (Eucharist) and other Christian sacraments are available means of spiritual knowledge, Wisdom, and profound spiritual Fellowship for those who know how to use them.
In her severe exposure of empty rites and forms and superstitious practices of professing Christians, Madame Blavatsky nevertheless affirms, "the fault is not in the practice, but in the attempt to use such things without appreciating their true occult value." In some papers published in LUCIFER in November and December 1887 and in February 1888, HPB says:
The mystic meaning of the injunction, "Verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves," can never be understood or appreciated at its true occult value, except by those who hold some of the seven keys ... These words ... are the words of an INITIATE. They have to be interpreted with the help of three keys --one opening the psychic door, the second that of physiology, and the third that which unlocks the mystery of terrestrial being, by unveiling the inseparable blending of theogony with anthropology. It is for revealing a few of these truths, with the sole view of saving intellectual mankind from the insanities of materialism and pessimism, that mystics have often been denounced as the servants of Antichrist, even by those Christians who are most worthy, sincerely pious, and respectable men.
-- The Esoteric Character of the Gospels
Again, she says:
The Gnosis supplanted by the Christian scheme was universal. It was the echo of the primordial wisdom-religion that had once been the heirloom of the whole of mankind; and therefore, one may truly say that, in its purely metaphysical aspect, the Spirit of Christ (the divine logos) was present in humanity from the beginning of it.
Though Madame Blavatsky does not quote from St. John in this passage (just quoted), she is stating almost word for word the Truth about the Christos as declared in St. John's Gospel:
The Logos existed in the very beginning, The Logos was with God, the Logos was Divine. He was with God in the very beginning: Through Him all existence came into being, No existence came into being apart from Him. In Him, life lay, and this Life was the Light for men.
-- John 1:1-4 (Moffatt)
In the same article, HPB says:
The author of the Clementine Homilies is right; the mystery of Christos ... "was identical" with that which from the first had been communicated "to those who were worthy" ... We may learn from the Gospel according to St. Luke, that the "worthy" were those who had been initiated into the mysteries of the Gnosis, and who were "accounted worthy" to attain that "resurrection from the dead" in this life ... "those who knew that they could die no more, being equal to the angels as sons of God and sons of the Resurrection."
THEOSOPHY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
There is quite an accumulation of "Divine Wisdom" (Theosophia) in the New Testament outside of the Gospels. As this is connected with the Person and work of Jesus, I refer you to the Sacred Writings, as you will discover among the Epistles of St. Paul, the Epistle to The Hebrews, and the three Epistles of St. John.
If someone asked me to state categorically the grounds on which Jesus may be claimed as a Theosophist, I would include:
1. His simple, transparent claim to know God, to come from God, speak the words of God, and His ability to make good on these claims.
2. His supernormal experiences (not "supernatural" in the true sense):
* His rapture recorded at His Baptism and the "Voice from heaven." * His Transfiguration on the Mount. * His Resurrection and Ascension. * His mastery over the elements. * His mastery over the physical body, especially in healing. * His mastery over adverse psychic forces that opposed him (usually recorded as "casting out devils").
3. The Evidences of Illumination, even in the fragmentary records preserved in the Christian Scriptures.
4. The Universal Welcome He still receives, when his message is not distorted or obscured by his professing followers.
5. The substantial agreement existing between the recorded great sayings of Jesus with the recorded sayings of other great World Teachers.
6. His Teaching of Universal Brotherhood. This comes out not only in his own utterances, but is seen as a fruit of his teaching appearing in the words of his followers -- conspicuously in the writings of St. Paul and St. John.
Behold I give you a new commandment, that ye love one another. As I have loved you, ye are to love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
-- John 13:34-35
If ye love not your brother whom ye have seen, how can ye love God whom ye have not seen?
He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
-- 1 John 2:10
Whosoever doeth the will of my Father in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother.
-- Mark 3:35
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
-- Matt. 25:40
7. The Ability of Jesus to lead men to the attainment of:
"Light for the Mind, Love for the Heart, and Understanding for the Intellect."
PRESENT-DAY OBJECTIVES OF THEOSOPHY
1. Light For The Mind
He that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of Life.
-- John 8:12
Wherever Jesus went it seemed as if auric splendor began to circulate around Him and about Him, which enlightened the minds of His associates. His recorded utterances, fragmentary though they be, afford corroboration of this claim.
2. Love For The Heart
The secret of the success of Jesus was that He loved men.
In a subtle way, He identified Himself with them.
In Him, the Love of God (so often rhapsodized) became available, articulate. Even His so-called miracles of Healing and restoration were never accomplished from any motive of self-exaltation. They were always works of compassion -- and compassion is Love in action.
3. Understanding For The Intellect
Jesus came not so much to answer an unlimited number of questions on a host of different subjects, as to regenerate men's minds. He did not come to express great ideas. He came to give to His brethren of the race a new quality of thinking, which would bring in its train understanding and a capacity for the higher Knowledge or Wisdom.
The words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are Life.
-- John 6:63
And St. Paul sums up this same idea in his first Letter to the Corinthians:
The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
-- 1 Cor. 2:16
(Moffat translates this last sentence: "Well, our thoughts are Christ's thoughts.")
THE CHRIST SELF TRANSCENDS THE LIMITS OF SPACE AND TIME
All power is given unto Me ... Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end ...
THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Jesus' conception of The Kingdom of God as something dwelling in the deepest depths of man's consciousness strikes another note of identity between His teaching and that of the ancient Wisdom coming through many channels. It is well expressed in the familiar stanza of Browning's where he makes the illuminated Paracelsus exclaim:
Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise From outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, Where Truth abides in fullness; and around Wall upon wall, the gross flesh hems it in, This perfect, clear perception -- which is Truth. A baffling and perverting carnal mesh Binds it, and makes all error; and, to know Rather consists in opening out a way Whence the imprisoned splendor may escape, Than in effecting entry for a light Supposed to be without.
Much of that imprisoned splendor escaped through the Avatara Jesus of Nazareth, and it is this Divine Splendor, this effulgent Wisdom, which compels our homage today.
By Victor Endersby
[CHRONICLES ON THE PATH, Part X. This 18-part series appeared in THEOSOPHICAL NOTES from September 1951 through November 1954.]
The man from the city, restless with the unease of those without roots in the soil, bought land in a secluded valley, pondering the terms of the purchase with reflection.
Harold thought of his fortunate acquisition. "The man there, Julian, unlettered and old, was burdened with the heritage of soil impoverished by ancestral ignorance and greed. Julian had let a life dark, poor, imprisoned, and hopeless. I have paid him well, so that he may now end his days in comfort. Not depending wholly for livelihood on this soil, I have no need of driving it as it has been done hitherto. With modern knowledge, it shall soon become enriched as in the days before our marauding ancestors. It will be for me a place of healthful toil in the long evenings and on days of no commerce. It will be a refuge in my old age from the pall of the city, and for future generations will produce the fit food so long absent from the nutrition of men in the Kali Yuga."
One day there drifted from the glen above, the grizzled and whiskered elder whom dwelt therein. This one sat upon a stump, and drew upon a pipe that made itself known everywhere. At last, Ken said, "You have a strong hand on that shovel. Moreover, you seem to be a fine man. There is a thing, though, for which I do not like you."
Harold, the city man looked up, troubled. It was far from his mind to be a bad neighbor. "What is that thing?"
"That you have displaced my neighbor who dwelt here."
Harold's shovel clattered on the ground. "But ... But!"
"Yes, I know that we did not get along," said the aged one. "Still I miss him and am unhappy."
The newcomer pondered this. When he had come there to buy the land, Julian had told him that Ken was an uncivil neighbor, surly in the lending and borrowing of tools, a man whose cattle made inroads on the land of others, someone who lagged in the mending of roads and fences held in common. Ken now described Julian using the same words.
Harold had thought that perhaps both were right. Perhaps, he further thought, both Julian and Ken were warped by the narrowness and poverty of their lives. Now there came to him a new view.
"Since he had a like opinion of you," Harold said, "It is possible that there was a misunderstanding and mutual aggravation, making both appear that which neither was in truth. It is possible that in the nature of things, you were put together here from old times in order to set the matter right."
"That thought," said the old man, "has also occurred to me. Had it occurred sooner, I would have done differently. It is now too late, for Julian is far gone, carrying his ill-will."
So saying, Ken wiped his eyes with his sleeve, knocked the ashes from his pipe, and wound his way sadly up the hill. Harold watched his slow gait and bowed shoulders.
"This thing," he reflected, "is perhaps the reason why these oldsters spend their lives in the mountain. They are like two stubborn children kept after school for the reconciliation of a foolish quarrel. It must have been important to involve the karma of two lives for so many years. Now my intervention has ended this opportunity, albeit unwittingly. Who knows in what age it may return?"
He put on his coat and hastened toward the city. It had occurred to him that there was a matter in his own life that would bear looking into, lest there be another belated awakening.
For this marks the man who has truly entered the Path, by however short a distance. All men are his teachers without regard to condition. All places are schools, wherever they may be located.
By Kenneth Morris
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, February 1951, pages 92-103.]
Now we come to stories known since childhood: Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Sleeping Beauty. No one knows where such stories originated. Parents have told them for scores and hundreds of generations, not guessing the meaning behind them. Heaven knows to what extent they may not have sown seeds of the Great Knowledge in the minds, or rather behind the minds, of the children who heard them!
The Fairy Godmother or the Secret Wisdom transforms wretched little Cinderella, our workaday human selves, into the Prince's Bride, which means it unites her to the God Within. Beauty sacrifices herself to the terrible Beast. She gives up her human self. The terrible Beast transforms himself into and turns out to be Prince Charming, her God-Self. Enchantments have hidden the Sleeping Beauty, that same God-self, in the castle grown round by impenetrable thorny thickets. The Prince wins his way through the thickets, then awakens and marries her.
This shows that we have to win our way through the thickets of our lower nature to get to the God-self within us and unite ourselves with it. That tells us the origin of love-stories.
Then the centuries welled on and the great Druids and Bards died. People forgot their theosophy. A new creed came in, which knew nothing about theosophy. The light of the Inner Wisdom died away from the Western world. Only the stories remained. Then in course of time, in Western Europe generally, men's minds began to awake from their long obscuration and to become active again. Presently, there were men with the impulse to tell and write stories once more.
They said, "In ancient times, people wrote stories. Shouldn't we? They wrote love stories. Shouldn't we?"
Preeminent among these new storytellers in England was Geoffrey Chaucer, typical of many then and since. Think of him as saying to himself, "Yes, but these ancient story-makers never made stories about real people. Wouldn't it be a good thing to write stories about real human beings?" Rather than telling the great central facts about human life, he made stories describe graphically the tricks, traits, and characteristics of human beings. His heroes were no longer the human soul setting out to become the God-self. They were Tommy Smith and Jack Jenkins.
Three hundred years later, Shakespeare came. This great man wrote dramas, but for our purposes, we can consider it the same thing. He too had to do what Chaucer had done, and draw characters, draw human beings as we see them in the world about us. He made an interesting play out of the interplay of common human characteristics. Instead of the old style of Little Gwions, Taliesins, Cinderellas, and Sleeping Beauties and Prince Charmings, we get his Rosalinds, Falstaffs, and Portias. Of course, he wrote infinitely greater creations of genius in a way, but also with infinitely less important tales to tell. So even now, it is safe to say that thousands know of the colorless Cinderella for every one that knows of the extremely colorful Rosalind. People will remember Cinderella ages after they forget Rosalind. Why is this? Because Rosalind, with all her charm, is only a human being like you and me, whereas Cinderella is a principle that is a part of everyone.
This is not all we might say about Shakespeare. He was great. He had made a success of his plays. People loved to see his characters on the stage, and to recognize in them human folk, as they knew them. Shakespeare was doing well from a worldly point of view. Then sorrow came into his life. The brightest and the gayest of mortals, the grief had bowed him down. A struggle began within him. We do not know of what nature, though we may surmise. Out of that struggle and the bitter anguish that arose within him, he then wrote HAMLET.
He wrote it -- the brain-mind Shakespeare wrote it -- once more to describe human character. The brain-mind Shakespeare did not know why the God-self Shakespeare was writing it.
"I will write of the fate of a shill-shallying prince that never could make up his mind to strong action," said the brain-mind Shakespeare.
"I will copy his doubts and difficulties from my own. I will write it to show myself the doom that is coming to me because I am weak, because I cannot take my lower nature in hand, conquer, and have done with it." The God-self Shakespeare smiled and quietly wrote HIS story into it.
The result is curious and wonderful. We find in Prince Hamlet the character drawing that belongs to the new method of fiction, the method that came in when people had forgotten the Secret Wisdom. This was the finest that Shakespeare ever did. It was finer than Rosalind and Falstaff. Hamlet is also more than a common man. He is Little Gwion, Cinderella, Beauty who married the Beast, and the Prince who awakened the Sleeping Beauty. Shakespeare tells the whole story of Initiation in HAMLET just as surely as it is told in the History of Taliesin.
Aeschylus the Greek, two thousand years before Shakespeare, being an Initiate, had written the story according to the old method. He called his story the Orestean Trilogy. In it, Queen Clytaemnestra and her lover Aegisthos murder the King, Agamemnon. To avenge him, his son Orestes kills Clytaemnestra. For the crime of matricide, the Furies haunt Orestes. They are dreadful Goddesses that pursue him over the earth. At last, he comes to the shrine of Athena, Goddess of the Secret Wisdom. Athena transforms the horrible Furies into Eumenides, beneficent Deities. This saves Orestes.
Just as Jesus did, we may speak of the God-self as our "Father." We may speak of our human nature as our "Mother." When we read that Orestes' mother, Clytaemnestra, has murdered his father Agamemnon, we see what it means. Our human nature, the world in which we live, the bodies we live in, and the passions which inhere in those bodies as part of the general framework of Nature, have driven from the world, have obscured and hidden away, our God-selves. It remains for us, the son of the God-self, to avenge our father.
That is the theme of the Orestean Trilogy. It is also the theme of HAMLET. Claudius has murdered his brother, Hamlet, King of Denmark. Claudius then married King Hamlet's widow, Gertrude, and then takes the throne. Prince Hamlet, son of Hamlet and Gertrude, meets the ghost of his father, who tells him about the murder and calls on his son to avenge him. King Hamlet is the dethroned God-self. Prince Hamlet, his son, is the human self. His business is to kill the usurping King Claudius, in whom we may see the principle of evil. Claudius has married the queen. That is, the principle of evil has taken possession of the lower nature of man. If you like, you may call Queen Gertrude the body, which is not naturally an evil thing.
There is the old prime minister, Polonius, whom was conventionality personified. He was the principle of keeping up appearances before the world, of someone striving, at all costs, to have others consider him respectable.
This is the state of affairs when the play opens. The setting is Denmark, which stands for a person. It could be any one of us. Evil has driven the God-self out of control. Evil reigns in our nature, united to our body. Even so, it all looks well to the world, because the Prime Minister in charge of the government is Mr. Polonius, the principle of respectability. There is also Prince Hamlet, the mind, the son of the murdered father. He speculates, inquires, and is not satisfied. Then the ghost of his murdered father appears to him. He catches a glimpse of the majesty of his dethroned God-self. The fat is in the fire.
The son Hamlet tries in vain to win his mother from vice, which is her husband, the usurper Claudius. Then Hamlet accidentally kills old Polonius, throwing conventionality to the winds and baring to the world the something that is rotten in the state of Denmark. By so doing, he rouses the wicked King to the point where it is war to the knife between them. One or the other must go. All he cannot and do is killing King Claudius. Why is this? The brain-mind, the personal self, cannot do it by itself. Only the Higher Self, brought into action, can do that and finish the work.
For the purposes of the play, and according to the limitations the dramatic form imposes, Shakespeare cannot make the ghost of King Hamlet come in, take the matter into its hands, and itself kill Claudius. How does he manage it? Himself dying, Hamlet kills Claudius at last, and dying takes the throne. When he is dead, the Hero-King of Norway enters, to whom Hamlet has left the kingship. The evil principle is wiped out. The personal self, Hamlet, is dead. The Hero-self becomes the ruler of Denmark, of our life. The Hero-self is the same as the God-self. The characters of the murdered King Hamlet and the Hero-king Fortinbras of Norway are the same.
We have shown that Hamlet's passing on the crown of Denmark to Fortinbras has the same meaning as Gwion Bach's becoming Taliesin. It means the same as Cinderella becoming the Prince's bride, Prince Charming awaking the Sleeping Beauty, or Orestes liberated from the Furies. All of these tell one thing. They tell that there is a way by which man may become a God.
In Shakespeare's time, all the chief writers wrote plays. The drama was the characteristic literary form of the age. This was because the principal amusement of the people, especially in London, was going to the theater. Presently, the theater fell on evil days. Puritanism came in, and people shut down all the playhouses. Though they reopened when the Stuart dynasty was restored in 1660, it was with an inferior type of drama. The impulse to write great things in play-form was exhausted. English genius, except in the cases of Goldsmith and Sheridan, has hardly used that form since.
In the eighteenth century, a new literary form came into vogue, the novel. It came with Fielding, Smollett, Sterne, Richardson, and others. It has held the field until our own times. Nothing could be much further from the ancient method of story writing than this new form -- if form it could be called, though it took one leaf from the ancient method, as we shall see. The custom was to invent a name for your hero, such as Tom Jones, Humphrey Clinker, or Roderick Random, and weave adventures around the name. The author attempted to write ordinary life in an interesting manner. The aim was realism. The most important of those eighteenth century novels, Tom Jones set the fashion for all English novels since. Roughly speaking, they are all built on the Tom Jones model, though one might easily spend a whole evening qualifying the statement.
The goal aimed at, the end of the book, is generally the marriage of the hero, as in Tom Jones. Here you have the leaf taken from the ancient method. It is an interesting point to consider. It is true that young unmarried people do often consider marriage as the goal of life, but that feeling only lasts a few years until they discover that it is but a starting place. Considered as a goal, it is rather apt to be disappointing.
Why do most books of fiction, most novels, persist in regarding it as a goal, and the appropriate place to end things? The answer is that the new method, which aims at depicting the actual life of actual human beings, inherited this way of doing things from the ancient method, which aimed at foreshadowing the life of the inner man.
In that ancient method, the marriage, the union of the lover or personal self with the beloved, the God-self, was the natural goal of the story. In the ancient method, there is no reference at all to sex. It can never fall into grossness. How could it, when its one aim is to tell, in terms of life, the things that belong to the regions beyond outer life? They are the real things. What we call realism is not rightly named. It should be known as actualism, which deals with the actualities of common life, not realities, which are of the Soul.
The English novelist Charles Dickens stands out above all others, as Shakespeare stands out above all the dramatists of his day. Dickens began life in a hard school of actualism. You can read about it in DAVID COPPERFIELD. He was made to know well his grim and actual London, the dark side of its life. He haunted police courts. He knew the ugliness of the slums. He knew his Tom Jones, his eighteenth century novelists. They were his models. To write a novel, for young Dickens, meant to write a book like TOM JONES. I should like to know what happened to Dickens before he was born. Was he sent as a kind of Knight-errant into the world?
"See here! England and London happen to be the most important country and city for the time being, but they are cold-hearted places. Humanity is suffering fearful ills in them, just because of man's cruel callous inhumanity to man. Who will go into them, be born into the suffering and cruelty characteristic of them, and strike the grand note of compassion?"
Dickens went. His wanderings as a youth made him write so that men's hearts would hear the plea. Weighted down with actualism, Dickens could not escape from rising into the ancient method at times. He would rise into the ancient method, which was gone and lost from the world. No one had consciously used it in English literature. No one had understood or used it for two thousand years, since the disappearance of Druidic theosophy from England. Perhaps Shakespeare had risen into these methods unconsciously. It is a strange thing, and proves that there is a divinity shaping our ends.
One of these times when Dickens used the ancient method was in OUR MUTUAL FRIEND. Herein, Dickens shows how the heroine, Bella Wilfer, grew from selfishness to truth, loyalty, and service. In other words, he took on himself the work of the old Bards. He has intuitively perceived that this growth from the small self of selfishness to the great one, the God-self, is the supreme business in life. He has taken on himself once more to show how Gwion Bach became Taliesin, Cinderella the Princess, and Hamlet Fortinbras. A disciple learns this truth. It is not a thing known to everybody, but Bard after Bard perpetuates it in the old stories, in whatever age or clime.
By George William Russell
[From THE INTERNATIONALIST, February 1889.]
It was said by one who is accounted a spiritual king among men that the shining world was only for those who could return to youth. What miracle could give to age and weariness the fairy heart of childhood? What miracle, indeed, if youth be not an eternal thing? For youth is a spirit that flashes with lightness and laughter through lips that are young. It is nonetheless present under the disguise of age. Therein, I think, it is loved. It is more evidently to be known as an immortal when it laughs behind wisdom and a mortality whose transience is clear. It was not childhood the king meant, but that which we feel to be forever young within us. Childhood is no nearer than age to that.
We know what it means when the world, which had been still for a while, suddenly some morning trembles and flings aside its mask of chill indifference. The winds flow on us with ethereal tenderness. The mountains make nothing of their size, but nod and call to us beyond the city's roofs and spires. We cannot pluck a flower. It is all too living. Its life is too much a part of our joy. All life appears but a game of hide and seek that we play with ourselves. We concealed ourselves of old in the great as well as the little things. We smile up at the blue sky and the suddenly softening majesty of eternal things shows that we have pierced another disguise.
I have always loved those stories where children move without fear, familiarly, in enchanted castles amid dread beings, wizards, and dragons who seem somehow forced to companionship with them by the spell of youth. It is one of the three master spells in life. The names of the others are beauty and love.
If I phrase lightly or fancifully the terms of this new intimacy, it is because I cannot find words endearing enough in academic philosophy. I cannot speak in scientific language. Who would describe the descent of a god as a psychical researcher the apparition of an ordinary respectable citizen, or say when thrilled by most-intense compassion, "My consciousness is on such-and-such a plane of being?" What meets us in these flashes is the Spirit looking out of its universal home.
I believe the poet to be nearer the truth than the scientist. His observation is subjective. In a living universe, everything said of nature is false which does not convey its opulent vitality even in barren wilds and the seeming vacuity of space. This gay spirit of youth in man makes him a poet, for its vision is of the life behind the veil. It sees the hills as stars and sees truly, and infinite elfin forms in the woodland, and every sorrow throbs with a hidden heart of joy. Ah! What tender revelations about men and women! They must needs be pathetic, but they are inspired with such hope:
This mood hath known all beauty, for it sees O'erwhemed majesties In these pale forms, and kingly crowns of gold On brows no longer bold, And through the shadowy terrors of their hell The love for which they fell, And how desire which cast them in the deep Called God too from his sleep. O pity, only seer, who looking through A heart melted like dew, Sees the long perished in the present thus All-seeing eye in us, Whatever time thy golden eyelids open They travel to a hope, Not only backward from these low degrees To starry dynasties, But looking far where now the silence owns And rules from empty thrones, Thou seest the enchanted halls of heaven burn When we in might return. Thy tender kiss hath memory, we are kings For all our wanderings: Thy shining eyes already see the after In hidden light and laughter.
It is years ago since I first heard of the Divine Eye. I marveled what the fire-gaze might hold within it -- suns, stars, and all the fiery populace of space in one manifold vision flashing suddenly upon the spirit. I think now we might look with the Divine Eye in every hour. Is not love another name for the spirit, and whoever with pure love beholds anything sees in that glance as the spirit sees. There are, I know, other mighty things which the first morning glances of love cannot perceive, but it is none the less the Eye of the Lord which looks through its eyes.
That soul travels most swiftly to infinite vision that is most readily compassionate. With it, these transformations happen daily, placing crowns upon uncrowned brows, and in hitherto ignored beings it beholds the kingly spirit molding with infinite patience and tenderness the heavy unwilling clay. It knows lastly, then, that nothing exists without the support of the Mighty.
It cannot choose but be at league with its fellows. To have this knowledge in the heart, however simply it phrases its wisdom to itself, is better than to have all the story of human thought and its philosophies in the brain. The mind overweighed with a cumbrous metaphysic grows cold, chill, and gray. Listening to the voice in the heart, we feel lifted on light wings. 0h Golden Bird, I am only thy shadow and dwell in a shadowy world. Give me thy star-touching pinions. Give me thy wider vision,
That I may see beneath the common things of day Eternal Beauty wandering on her way.
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In THE THEOSOPHIST (October 1930), official international magazine of the Theosophical Society Adyar, of which Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society, was then Editor, and Marie R. Hotchener, Coeditor, is a revealing article by Mrs. Hotchener titled "Theosophical Cooperation," reflective of the wave of real understanding sweeping the theosophical world then. A few quotes:
Questions as to the present situation of the cooperation of all Theosophical Societies are coming to us from all directions, so I think it would be well to state something here in answer to them.
So far as our Leaders are concerned, we have not heard anything from them in addition to what took place at the Geneva Congress, fully reported in the August and September numbers of this magazine.
The Hon. Peter Freeman, who was Chairman of the committee which reported to Dr. Besant and the Geneva Council, after preparing with Prof. Eek (a Point Loma member sent to the Congress to represent that Society) a 'Memorandum' on the situation involved, says that he has already found that there are twenty-two independent Theosophical Societies in the world.
This was a great surprise to us, and caused feelings of shame and regret that the followers of the Inner Founders and their great Messenger, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, are so widely separated and at odds on some of the interpretations and the methods of dissemination of the previous and inspiring truths of the Ancient Wisdom which she brought to us in Their name. No wonder Theosophy has suffered so many hindrances, especially from the world's point of view, with 22 Societies divided against themselves! One knows the great good that Theosophy has done, in spite of these internal dissensions and periodical crises; but how much greater good could have been done if there had been peace and unity of endeavor instead of dissensions to divert so much of its power! ...
As I look back over twenty-three years of service to the Adyar Society, and keeping in mental touch with several other independent Theosophical Societies, I can see clearly, as I synthesize the causes of our difficulties, that the majority of Theosophists in all the Societies have failed to heed the warning, so clearly, so fully, so emphatically stated by the Messenger of the White Lodge, that we should make the future of Theosophy safe by being so well grounded in its fundamentals of truth, its principles of brotherhood, and its spirit of divinity, that the inevitable vagaries and imperfections of personalities should not be allowed to react as obstacles to its future welfare ...
The situation causing the present petty differences and difficulties amongst us was recently emphasized by Dr. de Purucker, Head of the Point Loma Society, in a letter to his members dated February 17, 1930. He made a strong appeal to all Theosophists to cooperate with that Society in an effort to bring peace and unity, to eliminate the unessential differences, and get together on the original principles of Theosophy, and thus form, at no distant future, one great Theosophical Society of the world...
I sincerely believe that there was a Plan within his plan, even beyond and greater than any of those which he, perhaps, recognized as essential to the moment (though he may have done so) ... It is my personal opinion, for what it may be worth, that Dr. de Purucker (in spite of some of his sincere individual opinions, personal to his own Society) is now being used as an instrument for broadcasting that Plan to awaken Theosophists to the necessity for self-analysis and heart-searching in their relation to the ideals of Theosophy, and their part in the present unrest, doubt, criticisms, and disputes existing in all our Theosophical Societies, his not excepted. Hence his appeal to his members and to Theosophists everywhere to cease furthering the causes of separation and unrest. I quote from his appeal, which was sent to me last February and which determined me to help him in every way practical and possible:
Comradeship, brotherhood, unity, union, combined efforts, and the sense of Theosophical solidarity, belong to the distinctive spirit of the new Theosophical Era into which we of the Theosophical Society are now entering. It is my earnest prayer that my beloved Comrades on the Path will understand, and in understanding will seize, the spirit and meaning of my words, rather than allow themselves to puzzle over the mere phrases in which this my message is conveyed to them. Never before in the history of the Theosophical Movement has the world needed so greatly as it does today the work and combined efforts of the members of a genuine Theosophical brotherhood, without distinction of race, of caste, of creed, or of color; and last but not least, we should feel that no matter to what Theosophical Society we belong, if we the Theosophical Movement as such, and as contrasted with the various Theosophical Societies, is to succeed and do its best work, we must come together and work shoulder to shoulder.
I tell you in all seriousness and with all the solemnity that I can bring to bear, that personal opinions, personal differences, society-opinions, and society-differences, should not merely be laid aside, but should be dropped and forgotten, and that we should all work together for a common end. The Masters of Wisdom and Compassion are with us -- with you, my beloved Comrades on the Path; and I address these words to you also, our brother-Theosophists belonging to other societies. I call upon you all to realize the imperative need of union as contrasted with disunion, of Theosophical good-fellowship and good feeling as contrasted with differing and, alas, sometimes antagonistic, personal views and opinions.
It is this statement of Dr. de Purucker's that overshadows all other statements in the appeal mentioned; everything else seems secondary... It does not take a seer to see that the call is from the Great Ones -- not from Dr. de Purucker himself, alone.
At this time, words of careful warning from an impartial writer, Dr. H.N. Stokes, editor of THE O.E. LIBRARY CRITIC, Washington, D.C., are of note. In the issue of his little magazine for October 1930, he wrote:
I most heartily concur in Dr. de Purucker's attitude. For months past, there has been growing, almost spontaneously, a feeling of friendship, and a desire to cooperate between local bodies of the Adyar Theosophical Society and the Point Loma Theosophical Society in both America and Europe. The sleeping desire was there, else Dr. de Purucker's appeals could not have awakened it. Joint meetings have been held and arrangements for others made, members of one society have freely visited the meetings of the other, and the accumulated ice of years was beginning to thaw under the growing recognition of the fact that all theosophists, no matter what their affiliation, are thereby brothers. Each local group has acted as seemed to it best.
Now there comes a plan, sponsored by and apparently originated by Mrs. Besant, for getting together committees and a congress to discuss, decide and vote upon and dictate terms, ways and means of effecting brotherhood. As Dr. de Purucker implies, this is impossibe. The moment you begin with committees and votes, you introduce dictation, you introduce politics and log-rolling, and that which should have been spontaneous, an expression of brotherhood coming from the depths of the soul, becomes part of a parliamentary machine. It will not work; you cannot dictate brotherhood, or hand it down from some superior authority. It must grow as the flower grows, and the attempt to start a brotherhood machine will but kill the spirit of it. I am glad indeed that Dr. de Purucker has plainly put his foot on the plan, and one may see in his words the indication that, anxious as he is for brotherhood, it is not his intention to use means that in the end would be fatal...
A General Letter, issued from Point Loma in February 1930, made the official proclamation of Fraternization. Later that year at a public meeting in the Temple at Point Loma on December 21, 1930, someone asked Dr. de Purucker:
Does the Theosophical Society with international Headquarters at Point Loma really claim to be the ONLY GENUINE Theosophical Society founded by H.P. Blavatsky as the Messenger of the Great White Lodge?
To this, G. de P. answered:
No such preposterous claim has ever been made. We claim to be ONE of the important Theosophical life-streams, albeit a chief one, descending from the Envoy of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. Any other Theosophical Society whatsoever that teaches the original Theosophical doctrines and can claim its founding as an offshoot from the Society founded in 1875 by H.P. Blavatsky, we recognize as a genuine Theosophical Society. The degree of genuineness, my Brothers, we recognize to depend upon the greater or less fidelity to the original teachings of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace as set forth by H.P. Blavatsky, their envoy in our age.
... I have offered my hand in brotherly sincerity, and I say to all others: Come, let us be brothers; here is my hand; let us work together; let us knit up again the torn fabric of the Theosophical Movement, and become at one and at peace ...
G. de P.'s regime was a brief thirteen years. Before its end, he evidently had come to realize that such a daring concept as unification of all Theosophical Societies was not something to accomplish over night, or in a few years, though he contended it would assuredly come about some day. He seemed to accept the fact that, as Dr. Stokes expressed it, the idea to take practical form "must grow as the flower grows." As said, the seed was sown. Careful counsel was also given. In a letter dated August 19, 1941, he wrote privately to officials of his own Society that should any distant reunion of all Theosophical Societies come about, it would have to come
Strictly in accordance with the policies and teachings of HPB and the Masters, as first proclaimed by her... We in our Theosophical Society feel that the reasons for this are obvious, and we do not elaborate them for fear of hurting other Theosophists. The common Theosophical work in the world will be just as well served by the different Theosophical Societies following each its own path, but with cordial and fraternal relations amongst themselves, and especially SYMPATHY by us towards others of other societies of Theosophic bent or Theosophical Societies which are following or which return to the original policies, teachings, and procedures of the Masters and HPB. Nevertheless, our attitude towards all Theosophists of whatever Society is cordial, genial, and with a sincere desire to be fraternal within the limits of the principles above stated.
Dr. de Purucker very evidently had two clear and distinct duties to perform: to teach, and to work for unity among all the dismembered Theosophical Societies. He did both, and the record is there for all to see. To teach: to give added strong impulse to that ORIGINAL Theosophy from the Masters of Wisdom as brought by HPB, then fading or in some theosophical ranks almost unknown. To network or to fraternize -- this is a concept almost shocking to Theosophists of that era of half a century ago.
We close this incomplete review with a thought that carries its own appropriate wisdom. About six months before the Point Loma Headquarters moved to Covina, at one of the last meetings of the year 1941, a question was asked of G. de P. whether the time was now right (as had been promised some years earlier) to devote an evening to questions about his predecessor Katherine Tingley. He answered:
Well, I understand the devotion in the heart of this querent ... But I have come to the conclusion that no useful end or objective could be served, and furthermore it would concentrate the attention of our students too much on one single teacher; or to put it otherwise, too much on a person as contrasted with the Work itself.
Youth says, "Forget the past. We live in the today. Let us concentrate on what is right here." That has obvious merit, but it is incomplete. Is there nothing to learn from history? Need past mistakes inevitably be repeated? Knowledge of history CAN be helpful. Knowledge of men's hearts and minds in their experience of problems of their day CAN be instructive. These words are directed especially to those among our readers not yet old in years though eager to work for Theosophy and its realization in a practical brotherhood. We wish them well. Let us keep in mind, however, that in all theosophical work balance is needed as well as strength. Let theirs be a wise balance guiding and directing their efforts. They face -- we all face -- an upward cycle of opportunity in this last quarter of a century when humanity receives added inflow of spiritual vitality despite the powerful activity of opposing forces. Each year, too, starts with the smaller cycle between Christmas and Easter when, HPB reminds us, "the astral life of the earth is young and strong ... Those who form their wishes now will have added strength to fulfill them consistently." She adds, "In a garden of sunflowers every flower turns towards the light. Why not so with us?"
The theosophical tide is rising. The current is strong. As 1985 is born, may we turn toward the light in the great garden of Theosophy with increasing vision!
By Boris de Zirkoff
[From a tape recording entitled "What is Theosophy?" made of a private class held on April 27, 1955.]
In studying the Ancient Wisdom, recall their scope, worldwide distribution, and nature. Study them and ask if you understand where they come from. It pays to ask these questions and consider them carefully. Many think the teachings of Theosophy are just another "ism." They think it is just another school of thought put together from various sources and presented in palatable form. We know it is much more, but sometimes we forget why.
The theosophical philosophy is ancient. It comes from immemorial antiquity. It is a universal tradition to all. Today we study it in a systematical form. We might call it a whole body of teachings. We trace it piecemeal throughout history. People knew the philosophy under various names. The nations of great antiquity knew it, as well as the nations of lesser antiquity. People knew it in the Christian era in various places.
Theosophy is not man-made. As far back as you go, you find traces of it. It is like a golden thread. It weaves in and out of the various schools of thought of the past. There has always been a basic, fundamental doctrine. It was spiritual, intellectual, psychological, and ethical. The body of teachings was universal in nature.
Theosophy has never been in the possession of the majority. Its doctrines have existed in the background. Some have known part of it. Others have known more. A few of high evolutionary status have become expert it. From time immemorial, the elect of humanity derive the great religions and philosophical schools from that fundamental system.
It is the mother fount. On occasion, in some part of the world, it sends forth a ray. Certain portions emerge. It emanates a certain force. An installment of the ancient wisdom comes out to form a great religious or philosophical school.
Today we study THE SECRET DOCTRINE of H.P. Blavatsky. She was the chief founder of the modern Theosophical Movement. Enormous a study as it is, nevertheless it is but a small part of a treasury of knowledge. She pointed to the existence of the tremendous treasure house from which she drew the teachings. Since those days of the late 1800's, students have continued to present these teachings, and have enlarged upon them.
The appearance of the teachings is cyclic. At times, they are better known. Occasionally, they disappear. They may underlie the thought of the day, but not be definitely known.
There are cycles where the public persecuted, drove out, denied, ignored, and blasphemed the teachings. In times of great materialism, spirituality has fled. At other times, these teachings existed in out-of-the-way places. People propounded them cautiously against considerable persecution. In our cycle, much ancient knowledge is public, openly proclaimed, contained in hundreds of books, and studied openly in civilized countries.
I exaggerate how widely the teachings are openly proclaimed. Some countries forbid them. That is a curious reflection upon our age. This is a world of science. In a world where knowledge, search, and research are more prominent than in thousands of years, there should not be countries inhabited by hundreds of millions of people that forbid the open study of these teachings.
Hundreds of millions live in other lands where the teachings are openly available. Even so, few are inclined to study them. It requires an effort of thought and will. It requires changes in relation to people and life in general. This has never been popular. It will not be popular until ages in the future when mankind will be highly spiritual. Even today, the teachings have immense influence when compared to dark periods. The teachings did not influence people much in the Middle Ages in Europe or during the downfall of the Roman Empire. The people have become superstitious in modern India, where for thousands of years they have little known the true doctrine. The inner teachings of true spirituality were contained in their own scriptures!
The universal system of thought, doctrine, teaching, or wisdom is an organic whole. Theosophy is a spiritual science with its own laws, just as chemistry, engineering, physics, and astronomy are sciences. Most may not know it, in its various departments, with its various lines of research. It may seem new to the West. In the East, it in not new, but is mostly forgotten.
That is the main difference between the West and the East. In Europe and America, these teachings appear to be new. You cannot point to a century in Europe where they were well known. It has been a cycle of oblivion for spiritual fact. In the past, the East had ages where the best people knew the Ancient Wisdom. Then it went down. Today, the East is gradually reawakening to their magnificent scriptures, starting to see that these scriptures have contained these truths from time immemorial. The West has helped them uncover these treasures in their spiritual heritage.
Where do these teachings come from? Did men invent them? No. There are people who are seeking. They have heard about these things but do not know much about them. They ask us such questions. We definitely say these teachings are a system of religion, science, and philosophy. The teachings are three in one.
There are Teachers whom are super-human entities. They are far ahead of us in spiritual evolution. These Teachers have brought the teachings from higher worlds. The teachings are as pillars of truth or facts of nature. The most advanced humans ingrained the teachings in their minds millions of years ago.
These teachings are our heritage from super-human beings. They serve as a foundation stone in early human evolution, coming when few could understand them. They serve as a treasure house for our future evolution. The teachings are universal. The Great Ones brought them down from higher spheres.
The teachings are applicable everywhere, not just on our earth. They strike the fundamental keynote of nature's structure. This is far wider in scope than a planet. We can only speculate on its wider application, since we are not at the stage where we can understand more than our evolution on earth. We study the universal truths of the Esoteric Philosophy. These pertain to nature as a whole, not to any corner of it, not to this globe or that solar system. These truths are applicable everywhere, but not identically so. They are applicable with modifications.
Evolution is a cosmic process. It has a general pattern, but also modifies itself as it applies to a particular sphere of being. Consider the study of reincarnation, our successive lives in various bodies. Just as we change our clothing at times, so we build ourselves new outward vehicles. As long as we study reincarnation as applied to man, we limit our idea. It is a universal law. It is a universal pattern, the way nature works. There is reembodiment for everything, not just men. It applies to the spiritual center that manifests as an animal, plant, or even atom. It applies to the planet, the sun, and the solar system.
Go in either direction as far as you can. Go infinitesimally small or super galactic. Great or small are relative terms. A galaxy may be but a molecule in a greater entity. An atom might be a whole universe to entities that live in it. Whatever scale you choose, it is subject to universal law. It reembodies itself periodically, manifesting in a new form. It is the same spiritual center, vibrating between two states. There is embodiment, followed by rest in inner worlds. Another descent into the material world follows this rest. It embodies to continue learning. It gathers experience on its atomic, mineral, vegetable, animal, human, or super-human plane, and then disembodies itself again. Do not limit the idea of reembodiment to human reincarnation. We are part of a general picture.
The same is true of karma, the law of cause and effect. It is not limited to things that happen to us, to things that bring suffering or joy to us. The doctrine embraces more than the causes we engender and the effects that follow. It is incorrect to limit karma to human affairs and to higher animals where we see causation at work.
This is a fundamental, universal law. It is a pattern of evolution. Every effect follows its cause. There is no cause without a corresponding effect. There is no visible effect but has a cause, even if we cannot see it. Even if we cannot find it, it has a cause. Between every cause and its corresponding effect, there is a relation. Everything definitely relates to something else. In turn, every effect becomes the cause of future effects, like links in a chain. If we could not recognize cause and effect as a fact in nature, there would be no science.
Causation is the foundation upon which we build modern science. Everything that happens is reducible to law. Certain causes operate behind effects. Thereby, you build a science that can be trusted. Consider the atom bomb. There was a long chain of causation, from laboratory research to the blowing up of the bomb. We go from one cause to the next effect, eventuating in good or evil results. This law is universal. It applies on all planes, in worlds visible and invisible. It applies in the material, substantial nature of science and in the psychological, intellectual, and spiritual domains of ethics, philosophy, and religion.
Another basic law is periodicity. Consider the tides in the sea, the alternation of day and night, the seasons of the year, the cycles of human habits, the periodic cycles in history, and the cyclic appearance of disease. There are many cycles established by science, but there is much more to cycles. We see the manifestation of psychic law in the part of nature closest to us. Periodicity is constant motion between opposites, as a pendulum. This is a universal manifestation of life. Everything works that way.
No energy always works in the same speed and direction. Energy has an impulse followed by a slowing down, or even recoil, followed by another impetus forward. We can see this in the growth of trees, the division of cells, and the destinies of various movements among men. Things start, have a period of latency, have a new start and achieve more, and then have another period of latency.
Cycles involve action and reaction, with an ultimately sustained movement ahead. They are not continuous. They have rebounds, recoils, or periods of latency. The Greatest Teachers say the law of periodicity is universal. Astronomy knows it. Psychology knows it. Physics, chemistry, and genetics know it. Great Spiritual Teachers trace the same law working along ethical, intellectual, psychic, spiritual, and divine lines throughout the whole cosmos.
DIVINE SPARK EVERYWHERE
We talk about the innate, divine nature of man. It is the inner self or the god within. The mystical Christian would call it the Christos. Other nations have their own respective names for it. Through the years, we discuss that nature in our groups. The teaching is that there is a fundamental, spiritual nucleus, a spiritual flame, at the heart of human consciousness. This is a partial statement of a universal truth. That basic spark of universal, divine life is not just ours. It is in the animal, the plant, the mineral, the elemental, the atom, and the electron. In the other direction, it is in the heart of a globe, the heart of a sun, the heart of a whole solar system, and beyond.
This truth is another fundamental proposition. We find the divine spark in all things. Everything is but an outward form, a temporary manifestation of an indwelling center of spiritual consciousness.
On this plane, a spiritual center may be an atom. That is as far as it has unfolded itself. It has reached the stage of atomic life, nothing more. On the next plane, it might be a rose. The center has unfolded to a more advanced stage, that of a plant. It manifests its life that way. Skipping the animal, higher would be man. Again, there is the same center of consciousness. It has unfolded from within something richer, greater, more complex, and more powerful than before. It is a man, a self-conscious being. It has manifested self-consciousness, something the lower kingdoms did not have.
That is relatively advanced. Look to entities that are as far ahead of us in achievement as we are ahead of the atom. We see our stage insignificant compared to what our spiritual consciousness will manifest in the future. Evolution is universal. It has no beginning and no end. The possibilities of unfolding life are infinite. Life is infinite. I have mentioned four teachings. Not any of the teachings applies to but one kingdom. No teaching is limited to us. There is not solely a human prerogative in them.
We are one leaf out of an endless book of life. Reading that book, think in terms of universal truths. Do not to limit thought to one locality or kingdom. Do not imagine there is favoritism in nature, that one type of life has more opportunities than another has. That is not the case. We create our own opportunities. In return, we receive what is due to us for our effort. This applies on all levels, planes, scales, and spheres of life.